An Oklahoma City Muslim congregation is preparing for one of its biggest holidays of the year, buoyed by community support in the aftermath of recent mosque vandalism.
Hassan Ahmed, imam and director of the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City, said he and other leaders of the mosque, 3201 NW 48, have continued with preparations for Eid-ul-Fitr on Sunday despite an Aug. 12 vandalism incident.
Vandals shot paintballs at the mosque's doors about 2:45 a.m. Aug. 12, Ahmed reported to police. He said he was inside the building reading and thought the mosque was being hit with gunfire. The paint was removed Sunday and nothing else was damaged, he said.
Ahmed said he is unsure how much information about the vandals would be gleaned from surveillance camera footage, which was given to police. He said police added extra patrols and the mosque's leaders still are considering hiring security officers.
Even so, the imam said he and other mosque leaders are strongly encouraging Muslims who meet for prayer at the house of worship to attend Sunday's Eid-ul-Fitr celebration. He said more than 1,000 Muslims attend prayer gatherings at the mosque each week. Eid-ul-Fitr is the elaborate festival that follows the Ramadan fast. During the month of Ramadan, observant Muslims fast from food, drink and sensual pleasures from sunrise to sunset.
Ahmed said mosque leaders do not want people to feel intimidated by the act of vandalism.
“We'll go on as planned,” he said.
“We actually explained to our community that they should come, they should not be scared. This incident should not discourage people from coming — it should encourage people to come.”
Ahmed said he is aware that Muslims from across the state have expressed their support for the mosque, nestled in a quiet, older neighborhood near NW 50 and Independence.
Indeed, leaders of mosques affiliated with the Islamic Council of Oklahoma, condemned the paintball attack. The Muslim leaders said they support the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City community and they expressed their desire to see the vandals arrested.
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We actually explained to our community that they should come, they should not be scared. This incident should not discourage people from coming — it should encourage people to come.”